Moondrop Dawn Pro DAC dongle....erm, what?? Does nowt - why am I dense

trevor_mechine

Active member
Jun 1, 2024
5
3
25
Visit site
Hi everyone

This is my first post, excluding my introductory one.

I just bought the Moondrop Dawn Pro, and was excited to plug it into my HP laptop, connect my wired IEMs and stream some songs from YouTube, etc. etc.

One of my first jobs was to do an A/B comparison between the Dawn Pro (which is obviously exiting my laptop via the USB port, using the connectors that come with the Dawn Pro), and my laptop's 2.5mm headphone socket. I appreciate I can't do a switch test, flicking from one to t'other, but as it happened, I didn't need to. The results were immediately obvious:

The Dawn Pro is noticeably quieter. Am I wrong to assume that my laptop's 2.5mm socket is served by a superior DAC and circuitry than the Dawn Pro is creating/using? Or do I need to purchase a 4.4mm 5 pole balanced lead, and come out of the Dawn Pro that way? But then if I do, does that mean I have to purchase new IEMs with that kind of connectivity???

I apologise for the density of my denseness. I just assumed the improvement from the Dawn Pro would be easily and immediately apparent. It's not, and it's worse. Or so it seems.

Cheers in advance for any help/advice offered. ; - )
 

trevor_mechine

Active member
Jun 1, 2024
5
3
25
Visit site
Sounds daft but have you raised the volume within the music program such Spotify for example.

A dac chip will have no bearing on volume it might just be that computer has more robust amplifier
Thanks for the quick reply!

Your first point doesn't sound daft!! That's just the sort of thing I would overlook. However, on this occasion, what I am thinking is that - because I was changing my IEMs' connection, from the Dawn Pro, then to my laptop's 2.5mm headphone socket, the volume setting for the audio stream is not relevant. That is actually question.

But let's assume I am correct for a sec - if the laptop has a better amp, doesn't that off-set whatever gains I might make via improved DAC processing?
 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Thanks for the quick reply!

Your first point doesn't sound daft!! That's just the sort of thing I would overlook. However, on this occasion, what I am thinking is that - because I was changing my IEMs' connection, from the Dawn Pro, then to my laptop's 2.5mm headphone socket, the volume setting for the audio stream is not relevant. That is actually question.

But let's assume I am correct for a sec - if the laptop has a better amp, doesn't that off-set whatever gains I might make via improved DAC processing?
Assuming there is no other hidden system volume controlling things, quite simply no, you’re confusing loudness with better Quality.

Again assuming there isn’t a system volume messing with things My guess is that for what ever reason the dawn dac seemingly isn't running with as much gusto as your laptop/smart device. No bad thing.

So either it’s gain/volume slope is different, so it’s just as loud but you have more control on the dial. (This could be very likely)For instance some integrated amps give there all at 9 o’clock where as others at 12 o’clock. I have to run my chord at 1volt for this very reason or I’m at 100db at 8 on the dial with my speakers.

Or, which I doubt this is the case, it can’t handle the load of your headphones quite as well, so you need a bit more juice to get the going. Again no bad thing as long as you have enough rotation/digital slider left to get there.

You need to level match to do a proper comparison of quality.

My gut is it has a better quality output with more control so need to turn it up a little more is all.


Hope that jibba jabba makes sense
 
  • Like
Reactions: trevor_mechine

trevor_mechine

Active member
Jun 1, 2024
5
3
25
Visit site
Assuming there is no other hidden system volume controlling things, quite simply no, you’re confusing loudness with better Quality.

Again assuming there isn’t a system volume messing with things My guess is that for what ever reason the dawn dac seemingly isn't running with as much gusto as your laptop/smart device. No bad thing.

So either it’s gain/volume slope is different, so it’s just as loud but you have more control on the dial. (This could be very likely)For instance some integrated amps give there all at 9 o’clock where as others at 12 o’clock. I have to run my chord at 1volt for this very reason or I’m at 100db at 8 on the dial with my speakers.

Or, which I doubt this is the case, it can’t handle the load of your headphones quite as well, so you need a bit more juice to get the going. Again no bad thing as long as you have enough rotation/digital slider left to get there.

You need to level match to do a proper comparison of quality.

My gut is it has a better quality output with more control so need to turn it up a little more is all.


Hope that jibba jabba makes sense
thanks for the reply!

"Assuming there is no other hidden system volume controlling things, quite simply no, you’re confusing loudness with better Quality."

Yes! I think I could well be confusing loudness with better quality. However, until I can control for the difference in volume levels, my ears will always equate loudness with better quality (unless there are obvious artefacts present such as distortion and/or EQ differences in the louder signal, I think most people would prefer a louder signal - providing it is not uncomfortably louder).

I think that is quite reasonable from a technical standpoint as well as a "psychoacoustic" (i.e. 'subjective'). The louder an audio signal is, the more easily the ear can detect any extraneous noise created by other components in the signal chain. Assuming everything else is equal, the louder signal IS the better signal - providing it does not acquire any hissing, humming, etc. Or, if it is not, I can't suss out why it isn't.

"Or, which I doubt this is the case, it can’t handle the load of your headphones quite as well, so you need a bit more juice to get the going. Again no bad thing as long as you have enough rotation/digital slider left to get there."

Another good point - and again, thanks. I agree that it's doubtful my headphones are the culprit. If they were big closed or open back jobs, I could easily see how a small component like the Dawn Pro might struggle to power them - but these are tiny IEMs so it seems unlikely that this is part of the issue. Or less likely, at least.

"You need to level match to do a proper comparison of quality."

Yes!! Absolutely. This is essential. However, it's also very difficult. As I said, I can't do what I call an A/B switch test - which would involve toggling between two sound sources of equivalent volume. What makes this so difficult is that I would need to spend time doing it, because I can't run the two signals in parallel. By the time I have faffed around altering volume levels, it's a lot more difficult to ascertain any subtle differences. And I think they will be subtle. Perhaps even too subtle for me to detect?

Anyway, I will persevere and try to make sure I have the Dawn Pro correctly connected, and that the laptop is speaking to it correctly. There is every chance I have overlooked something in this context.
 

trevor_mechine

Active member
Jun 1, 2024
5
3
25
Visit site
...but you wouldn't be the first person to be underwhelmed by the performance of an external DAC Trevor.

If not too expensive, I'd go for a balanced cable (I always prefer to make my own cables, but that may not be an easy option with your IEM).
thank you!

I am confident enough to tackle soldering up some 1/4" jack instrument cables, but beyond that I worry about dry joints, burning myself, and inhaling to many flux fumes. :LOL:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray
thank you!

I am confident enough to tackle soldering up some 1/4" jack instrument cables, but beyond that I worry about dry joints, burning myself, and inhaling to many flux fumes. :LOL:
What spec are your headphones/IEMs? The 2 volt output from the Moondrop 3.5mm socket should be adequate. Presumably you’ve turned it up?

I’d never heard of Moondrop, but I see the retail price is about half of the typical price of the entry-level Audioquest Dragonfly, the product which created the market for plug in DACs for headphone wearers. I wonder if it is any good, or more especially what problem you hoped it would solve?

I’m completely out of touch with MS Windows, which I assume your HP runs on, but in the past the settings for audio outputs could be confusing.

Lastly, as others have said, ‘loudness’ or volume isn’t the determining point unless you needed more volume to begin with.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: trevor_mechine

RobSys

Well-known member
Jul 22, 2022
66
34
570
Visit site
The only commonality between the PC sound circuit and the Moondrop circuit is the actual music files digital info. The PC has it's own DAC and amplifier and takes the digital source and converts it to an analogue signal which is then amplified and sent to the 3.5 mm socket. The external DAC/AMP takes the digital info (via the USB) and does the same - completely independent of the PC's audio circuits. This is regardless of the music player app you are using....
It should be noted that even entry level DAC/Amps are (usually) going to be better than what's built into PC motherboards.
Don't worry about an balanced cable for the IEM's - IEM's are not balanced and all that such a cable will do is increase the volume a bit.
You can do A/B testing on a PC by changing the output from your music player. In Windows Settings go to "System/Sounds" There you can select either Speakers or DAC/AMP under "Output".
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
thanks for the reply!

"Assuming there is no other hidden system volume controlling things, quite simply no, you’re confusing loudness with better Quality."
Exactly that. The human ear can pick up volume easier than quality, so a compressed sound seems better that the wide open spaces of the higher quality sound at first hearing. However, if you match the volume levels by decibels, the quality component will win every time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1

RobSys

Well-known member
Jul 22, 2022
66
34
570
Visit site
Aren't they Rob? What never?
I've never had and never will have, anything to do with IEMs.
But surely, for what 'balanced' is worth - why would IEMs never be balanced - when headphones often are, with the appropriate cabling / connectors?
As far as I understand, admittedly not a lot..., for a balanced (or XLR) cable to be effective, one needs to have an amp or similar device at both ends of the cable that can offset noise transmitted in the cable - useful for very long cable runs. I have used a balanced cable with my Klipsch headphones and cannot hear the slightest difference between that and standard single ended cable - except for an increase in volume due to having two amplifiers working in parallel or series.

That said, my A&K Diana IEM's came with a balanced cable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

Gray

Well-known member
As far as I understand, admittedly not a lot..., for a balanced (or XLR) cable to be effective, one needs to have an amp or similar device at both ends of the cable that can offset noise transmitted in the cable - useful for very long cable runs. I have used a balanced cable with my Klipsch headphones and cannot hear the slightest difference between that and standard single ended cable - except for an increase in volume due to having two amplifiers working in parallel or series.

That said, my A&K Diana IEM's came with a balanced cable.
Yes, by describing any ear/headphones connections as 'balanced' they've caused confusion.
What they call balanced - just means that each ear gets a separate, rather than shared, negative / return conductor.
They should have found another way to describe that (anything other than 'balanced' would have avoided much confusion).
 

TRENDING THREADS